Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Somethings different about that girl ...

Something has changed. I know what it is; I have a mental list, but, for the life of me, I don't know why. And I can't figure it out.
A normal person would accept this change ... correction, a normal person wouldn't probably notice this change ... but I have never claimed to be normal - and well - not only do I notice the change, but like everything else, I am probably going to over-analyze this. I already am. I should like this mysterious shift, but its one of those things that makes me a little uneasy - like you are whenever something changes in your life.
Lately, I've been in an uncommonly good mood. I've always been peppy, but this is different. I'm Feeling really good about myself. Lately compliments have been flowing from people, and I've been taking them (at least more so than I usually do). This is a narcisistic, but when I look in the mirror, there are times I think to myself "I look kinda good". I have started to "let go" a little and just have some fun when I'm hanging out with others. I've started singing kareoke again (although, after the disaster at Cattails, I may renig on that). I've started to be more comfortable in my own skin around others - especially my peers and my superiors. I'm apologizing a lot less now (the impulse is still there, but I am learning to curb it, especially around certain people). But most of all, and this is the big one, I have started to think that I am somewhat good at what I do. I even had this as my Facebook status: "Teresa Rankin ... is a better props designer than Jesus. Why? Because I can turn water into Brandy, Vodka, Whiskey, Rum, and 2 different types of wine." That was pretty ballsy of me.
I know that list looks a little pathetic, but - hey, these things are big steps to me. I'm an incredibly modest person; the last one who would ever praise themselves or their work. This has its advantages. No one has ever been able to accuse me of being a snob or a know it all, and in general, people seem to like my humbleness. I think I will always carry that feeling of being in someone's way - and I don't mind that feeling, because it helps me be more aware of my surroundings and be more considerate to others.
What I am afraid of, is that this will get to me or it will be one of those "one step forward, two steps back" things. For every high there is a low, and I worry what will happen when I get my comeuppance. The other worry is that this will change me - for the worse. I have people who love me the way I am - and I don't want to change that. There is a thin line between having more confidence and having false confidence, and I don't know where the line is. What if I have already stepped over it? How will I know?
The other thing is: people around me here are so nice to me. More nice than I deserve. I'm not saying they are not sincere, or that they would lie to me (even kindly), but I worry sometimes that they're not telling me everything. They're so kind and so considerate that I fear their critiques of me are ... obscured(?). So how will I know, how do I know the answer to all my questions - like "how can I do better?"
And yes, even though I am taking compliments more, I still feel a little bad about it sometimes. All the love and thanks the tech crew has been getting lately is wonderful, but I don't deserve to be included in those things. Karn and Adam are working their asses off and they still find time to do all the little extra things that fall to them. Emily - I can't even begin to describe how amazing she is - and she has no help at all! Barry comes and goes, but gets his shit done in less than three days. I give him a lot of credit because, unlike the rest of us, he can only do his work inbetween shows. I just don't live up to their level of awesomeness. Anyone can do what I do. Not that I am not grateful to even be grouped together with these people - and I still do recognize that I must be doing something right this year, because everything is feeling so good.
Will the ball drop? God, I hope not.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

review: A Serious Man

... Okay ...
Don't really know what to say about this movie. It is beyond my understanding. I read a little about it after watching it, and I was glad to see that it was somewhat based on the book of Job. I was even more glad that I could see the connection.
However, I think this is just one of those movies that I am not going to like. I respect it, but it certainly is hell to sit through.
Why did I watch it in the first place? It certainly was not because I adore other Coen films - in fact, I only know 2 for sure, and I only like one of those. I watched it because of Ari Hoptman. He plays Arlen in the film and he is one of the actors that comes up to the do shows at the Playhouse. He's an amazing guy, and I was really excited to see him on film, and he was good. Small part, but a good role. I'd watch it again to watch him.
Other than that, there is not much I would re-watch this for. Except maybe with someone who understood it more than I did. That would be helpful.
I guess the only reason I really didn't like it is the characters. Most of them were assholes. And all the humor was because of that - and I guess that is just not my thing. I don't like watching movies that have characters of the lowest possible factors. It seems like everyone was mean, lazy, and self-centered. I'm not a violent person, but I wanted to bootkick his wife out of the house and onto her ass. I wanted to bitchslap the daughter, and I wanted the bully have a crackshot at the son. And I feel completely justified in saying that.
I do commend the lead actor - he was wonderful, and I guess everyone else did a great job because I did dislike them so much.
So - the only reason I suggest that people watch this is because of Ari. I will say that it does a good job of portraying the incredible detachment of the sterotypical suburban 60s.
2 out of 5 stars

Friday, June 25, 2010

review: 2012

The jury is still kind of out on this film right now. Hopefully by the end of this blog I will be able to give it a proper rating.
The plot is rather obvious. It starts about 2009 and with a couple of quick flashes through the years you learn that the government is preparing for something. Of course, you have an idea what it is. This is where science and prophecy meet. The Mayan calender predicts an event of cataclysmic proportions. We learn that this is true because the sun is putting off exra ... waves (don't ask me what kind) This is causing our core to heat up, which is causing something a lot like a land shift. The earth is essentially exploding on itself.
Obviously there are a lot of different stories weaved into this - as with all disaster movies. The main focus is on a down and out writer and his family - estranged wife, son, and daughter, as well as his wife's new boyfriend. But we also are introduced to the scientist who brought the problem to the attention of the government (it is worth to note that he is NOT the person who first discovered the problem though - I thought that was a nice change up) Add a couple of politicians, a freak, a religious man, and their families and you have the general core of characters.
I liked the movie. It isn't something I would want to own, but I would watch it at a friend's house or on tv once in a while. Acting is pretty good. I'm a sucker for John Cusack, I am. There wasn't any really fantastic performances, though. Good, adequate, but nothing mind blowing.
The plot - while typical had some good points. It started off kind of slow. The first wave of disaster was detached somehow. It was more spectacular than I really cared for. However, I will say that I understand why it was that way. The ending half of the movie is incredibly emotionally charged. So, I think the first wave of city destruction was designed to be more for the wonder aspect than for a feeling for all the suffering. It also held the concentration of the family, which made sense too.
There were some cheap shots though, in the plot, and at one point I did start thinking - when are they going to reinvent the pattern? Why is there always a good scientist, a dirty politician, a bad man who somewhat redeems himself in the very end - and why, why, is the main family always somewhat broken? I'd like to see something different.
Still and all, it was pretty good, and there was some amazing camera work. Obviously, a lot of special effects were used - and it was pretty effective. I was on the edge of my seat for a lot of it. I was most intrigued by watching the different types of people dealing with the end of the world crisis.
You know what bothered me the most? It has nothing to do with the movie, though, so pardon the hiatus here. I was watching it with Barry - who has a big problem with organized religion. Okay, fine, that is his beliefs, and I respect that. But I got really irritated when they showed the Vatican and he cheered the destruction. I got mad really. And I feel bad that I did, because there was no reason to. But it bothered me that he could only see the Church as false hope. It really bothered me. It was not the time to have a religious discussion, and I am the last person who should even get into such a discussion. I am not a good Christian, and I know little about world religions - but I wanted so badly to make him understand. I know every religion has its downfalls, and too often people use religion as an excuse for intolerence (which makes me SO MAD). Religion is there to comfort people - to guide them - to teach them to be good. Organized religion is simply a community of believers. It is simply a group of people who agree and who worship together. It is a beautiful thing really. I'm not Catholic and I don't believe exactly as they do, but I respect their faith - and watching the symbol of that faith crumble is powerful and sad. It is just as sad to see a Jewish temple bombed or guards having to stand outside a Mosque. I wish I could get him to understand - but I don't want to be disrespectful to him, so I say nothing.
Back to the movie: I think I have made a decision.
3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars - borderline on 4 stars.
I recommend it for at least a one time watch.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Can't Help But Think ...

A little part of me has been nagging at me the last couple of days. Now that 'Picasso at the Lapin Agile' is open, I actually have the chance to go into it.

Please, don't misuderstand. I LOVE my job - but lately I've been a little dissatisfied. Not with Properties - I still love working on props for a show. It really compliments my "anal" side pretty well. I'm getting to the point where I am more and more comfortable with my abilities, although it is worth to note that I still maintain that I am not really good at my job. Properties is half talent and half sheer dumb luck and although with each show I learn a little more talent, I do recognize that there is some miracle in the fact that I haven't completely botched something yet ... As far as I know.

Properties is familiar and comfortable to me, but I need more. We watched the DVD of last year's production of 'The Who's Tommy' and while we were watching it, I realized that what I did for that show was pretty insignificant. I had little impact on the show. Every now and then someone would say how amazing something was, or someone was, and so forth. Not that I want the recognition from someone else; all I want is the feeling of an accomplishment. I want to feel that I contributed something to the end-all final product.

That is a hard feeling to get in Properties. If you do the job well, people just don't think twice about it. If a prop is where it needs to be and it does what it needs to do - then no one should think twice about it. You just accept that these things are in there, and you don't notice it. Not to mention that there really are no "awesome" props - at least I haven't made any. I don't think there was ever something I put in a show that made the director, or even one of the other actors go "oh my god, that is cool!" Not even "neat" Again - not that I want praise from others. I don't expect it, and when I get it, I don't know what to do with it. No, what I want is that feeling of "hell yeah, I did that!" Personal pride.

You do get that feeling a bit after every show opens. But it seems to be more of a collective "we did it" than a personal "I did it" And yes, I know how selfish that sounds. It's so easy to stand there with Karn and Adam and Barry and look at the stage and say "we did it" - But I always feel a little guilty when we do that because when I look at my contribution, I see how little it is that I do. Love props though I do, it is a lonely job in the fact that so much of what makes it great, is something that no one else gets. I get an antique, I restore it, and I put it on stage and, yeah, I'm a little proud of that piece. But no one really gets it. It's furniture. How excited can you really get about that? I know I have a props soulmate out there someone who goes into antique stores as much as I do, and looks at something and has that same "Oh MY GOSH!" feeling I often get when I imagine what that would look like on the set, or with an actor working with it.

As much as I like props, like I said, I want more. I love SMing because I am there from beginning to end and the show becomes my baby. Assistant SMing is almost the same thing - except instead of keeping the book, I just focus on being down there with the actors and taking care of everything on the stage. I've only really experienced the Directing feeling once, but I know how amazing it is to watch the show and know that it was my vision up there. Supplemented the actors, the designers, everyone - but still, it started with your idea. Its a great feeling.

I need to be involved more. I like working with people more than objects, I guess. On strike night of 'Biloxi' I was joking with Al about how much I would love to have his job. Well, partially joking. I felt really bad afterwards - it was dumb of me to even talk to Al about it. I don't want him to think that I imagnie that I can do better, and I don't want him thinking that I don't like him being here - it was nothing to do with him, really. It was insensitive of me, and I would apologize to Al about the whole thing, but honestly I don't even want to bring it up again. I also would love to take Marie's job - and yes, even I would like to learn Katherine's job. I just want to do more than I am - be more to the production.

Thinking back to the end of last season, when there was a chance that I wasn't going to be able to SM a show at all, I am confident that my decision was a good one. I told Zach that I couldn't take a step back in my progression. For a bit there, I was actually considering not coming back to the playhouse. I am so glad I don't have to think about what would have happened if Zach hadn't figured out that I could SM 'Biloxi' - then I would truly have been miserable if I were not here at all. However, it was a scary gamble, but I am glad I took it. (This is making it should like I am giving myself way too much credit - but for the record, I know how much I owe Zach and I can't describe how grateful I am to him).

This, of course, leads me to think about next summer. Zach is definately back again, and as always, I want to be here. I will always want to be here as long as Zach is. It is too good of a learning oppurtunity for me. But I have to balance that out with what else might be best for me. I know I should move on, should look for other oppurtunities elsewhere. I know my parents would be happier with me if I quite revolving my career around the idea of summer stock. But I love it here too much. The last couple of summers here have been the happiest months of my life. So, I am still at an impasse. I'm scared to think of what I would do if I were ever fired from this job - or simply not asked to return (again, until Zach leaves).

I'm so confused about all of this, and I just want to sit down with someone I can really trust and talk it out. But that isn't easy to do. I'm not very good at expressing myself (If you have read this far in the blog, you understand) and I worry that somehow I will end up shooting myself in the foot with my mouth. This does lead to the question: why the hell would you blog about it then? Good question. And I don't have a logical answer to that. Only the thought that it makes me feel better to get it all out, and I don't think anyone really cares anyways. I can't imagine anyone would have a problem with what I have written.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Review: District 9

This one took me by surprise. Really did not expect what this film had to offer.
And the interesting thing is that you didn't realize it until you are so wrapped in it that everything else goes away.
Essentially, the story make illusions to what happened during Apartheid. I will admit that this is a section of history that I know next to nothing about. So, it didn't mean much to me at first. Still, immediately, you understood the overall meaning of the film. It is explained that about 20 years ago an alien ship settled over Johannesburg. Long story short, the aliens were granted assylum, but lived in less than 2nd class status. The story actually gets going with a man named Wikus getting the job of serving eviction notices to all the aliens (who are living in an assigned ghetto) as a relocation plan to a "better" reservation outside of the city.
This is a hard movie to talk about without revealing too much, so SPOILER ALERT folks. Stop reading now if you don't want it ruined.
The brilliancy of the film is not in the story - because the story is pretty typical. For musical theatre lovers, think what happens in 'Finian's Rainbow' and you have it. Winkus is exposed to a special substance, which is slowly causing him to transform into an alien. Meanwhile, he has become the most wanted man in the world - and for reasons I will not go into, everyone wants a piece of him. Now, a fugitive, he is forced to hide amongst the aliens, thereby confronting his racism.
What I liked about this film: It was not single sided. You felt for the aliens, but it was also frustrating as hell to watch because it seemed like most of them didn't want to help themselves. They were not perfectly innocent - no one was. The hero was bigoted, and had to learn, in a hard, terribly cruel way, a lot of lessons. Which, by the way, the lead actor was talented! That was some pretty phenomenal acting. You thought he was a dork, then you hated him, then you felt incredibly sorry for him - and then you kept going back and forth as the movie went on. But always, I was riveted by him. That says something to his talent. All the acting was great. Even by those who were not human, which I guess just means that they were written incredibly well. It didn't end what you would call happily, but there was some hope. It was real - for as much as it was science fiction. Great alleory.
But what I think I liked most was how much you felt for all sides. With some proper exceptions, I could feel for almost every ... thing ... portrayed in this film. I understood (almost) everyone's motivations, reasons, complaints, pros and cons.
It was not something I would want to own - it's a little too hard of a film for me to particularly enjoy, but I have a lot of respect for this film.
It is definately is one that I think everyone should see at least once.
4 out of 5 stars

Monday, June 14, 2010


I've been thinking about this a lot lately. How much people change, things that never change, things that you don't want to change - but (and I know this is a little self-centered) mostly I have found myself contemplating how much I have changed.
I'm noticing it a lot more this summer. It's like I am becoming more comfortable in my own skin. Most people probably won't agree with me here, but I think I have changed a lot - and I don't know what the change is exactly or how it happened for sure.
I've always struggled with my confidence level; that's no secret. I grow a little each year, but I don't think it is ever something that will completely go away. And I have gotten so used to it that I've just accepted it as part of who I am. Not to imply that I am giving up my battle, but more like I am learning to not put so much pressure on myself. It got to the point that I was ashamed of this aspect of myself and I hated myself for it - which only hindered my confidence level, which I hated myself even more for. Somewhere along the way I just decided to take the pressure off trying to change so much. Just being and learning to be okay with my faults has helped a lot I guess.
When I went to Colorado, I took a giant leap backwards. I was afraid to come out of my room - I was so uncomfortable with everyone and everything, which made everyone and everything uncomfortable with me. It was a vicious cycle. It was my own doing, I know, but at the time, I felt that was that and there was nothing else I could do. Going home was a blessing, but I wish I would have been able to get past myself when I was there.
Then I come here. And, as always, I am excited, but nervous too. But something happened this year. For some reason, I just found myself fitting into everything with so much more ease than usual. I was like coming home from Colorado. It was familiar and comforting and loving. Even when I started working with my cast (which usually terrifies me), I was so much more calm for me. And believe it or not, I found myself carving a niche for myself with them. (Maybe carving is the wrong word - I didn't have to work too hard at it, so I don't know if I made the niche myself, or they just had one for me.)
I'm going out more and socializing with everyone. It's not as easy as it is for most people, but I don't feel like the odd-girl out all the time. Some of this is me, but I know that most of this is because of the people here. Everyone is so affectionate and caring with each other. There is no fake. I have a hard time believing compliments and kind words from people, I always have - but here, when someone says "its good to see you" I know they mean it. The best way I can think of describing the feeling is that you get hugged all the time, but here, they embrace you - and I am flourishing in this affectionate atmosphere.
Yes, I still apologize more than I should (but I still maintain that I apologize sincerely! I hate empty "I'm sorrys"), and I still have a lot of trouble with snappy comebacks, and I still have incredibly awkward moments, but it doesn't bother me nearly as much. I've always been incredibly positive, except when it comes to myself and my work; and while that is still true, I also have begun to see some positive in myself and my work.
So much so that I have actually been able to look in the mirror and think to myself: I look pretty good actually. (that remark was incredibly self-centered and superficial, but it's also a big step for me) The other day someone complimented me. And I actually just smiled and said "thank you" For those of you who know me, yeah, that was a big step.
I've still got a long way to go - as everyone will tell you - but I've also changed a bit too. For the better, I hope.
I still can't tell Zach to "Deal" and I haven't used the power phrase (to be honest, I don't even remember it) But I can live with that for now. Besides - I've come this far, and we're only starting on the 2nd show - who knows where the summer will go?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Review: Pulp Fiction

I'm not even going to go into the all the accomplishments or the significance of this film, because, let's be honest - if you don't know at least a little something about this film, then you have been living under a rock. The movie was such a phenomenon when it reached the screens. That's putting it lightly.
I've been very hesitant to watch this because it is not my usual cup of tea. Mostly it was the drugs and the violence. But its on the top 100 - and you have to respect something that can make it onto such a culturally significant list.
What did I think? Well, apprently, I am a traitor to my generation. I get it, and I really don't. There were a lot of aspects of the film that I enjoyed. Some of the humor was pretty good. Dark, but good. Dialouge structure and content was phenomenal. Storytelling techinique was quite unusual for a film, at least in its day. Good acting. Realistic.
I understand the significance. I see the brilliance and some of the morals. I am fascinated by what the hell was in the briefcase.
But I just didn't care for it.
You can't look at this film and expect to see a complete story. Because there really isn't one ... well, actually, I can't say that. Maybe there is. I just didn't see it. It was three inter-related stories that connect, and yet, have nothing to do with one another. (I know that doesn't really make sense, but that is what I am left with after the end of the film)
I know this is incredibly harsh, and you would think that I would be more open-minded, considering that I do work in theatre, in the arts, in the entertainment industry - but at the end of it, I didn't know why I watched it in the first place. What did I get out of watching this? A couple hours of something to do, yes; I wouldn't go so far as to say "entertainment" because it took me about 3 tries to get through the movie.
Like I said, I think, in the last bit, there was a bit of a moral, there was a sense of a story, the start of a conclusion that wasn't really there. But that wasn't enough for me.
Someone has to explain this movie to me. It's not that I don't get it. It's just that I don't get anything from it.
Actually, no, that is not true. I did learn a couple things: Royale with Cheese and don't do drugs.
I feel like I should apologize for not liking this film. I respect it, but I just don't like it. The only reason I would ever recommend this to someone is because it is a classic, it was a milestone, it was innovative and provoking. I will be the first to admit my ignorance on this movie. Like I said, I do respect it despite everything.
But respect is not enough to make me like this film.
2 out of 5 stars

Friday, June 4, 2010

Can I say it again?

I love my job. Get used to reading that - because I will say it about 500 times over the course of the next couple months.
Things are going well. Started rehearsals for 'Biloxi Blues' It's going to be an amazing show. The cast is great. I don't know why this is, but I like working on a show with a bunch of guys. They're just so easy and laid back. Although sometimes I want to bring a cattleprod in just to see if anyone would listen to me then. Probably not, but hey - that's them. Most of the time I just let them go, because, really, why not? As long as they get stuff done, I don't care how many stories they tell. Although I will say it is frustrating to even remotely try to get them on track. I've learned that with Zach, it is best to let him keep everyone on track, because when you try to do it for him, you just look like an asshole.
I love being in rehearsals - I always have. I love the see people work on roles and discover and play together. It is true that the final product is not nearly as fun as the journey. It is so fun with this group because most of them are just amazingly smart. This is something I will never stop being astonished by with Playhouse actors - they are so witty and intelligent, and their choices are so natural. Most of the time they just make it seem so easy. Oh, there is struggle to, but there's even something about their struggles. I don't know, I guess you would just have to see it to understand.
The only thing I am still uncomfortable with concerning my stage management at the PBP is my utter lack of interesting characteristics. I'm just bland when it comes to working with people. I do my job, and I do it fairly well, but its hard for me to become a member of the group with them. Its a personality issue, and as I have one that could be described as meek, quiet, and simple, I don't really contribute much. I'm not a "game girl" like others, and I want to be. I should work on that.
Working on a show has its ups and downs, and the one in between if my ability to critique and contribute to a show. Granted, most of the time, I can't, so I just write a review, or write it in a script and keep for hopeful future reference. It is hard to sit in rehearsals and see or hear something that just rubs you the wrong way. And you want to say something so bad, but you know it is not your place, in fact it is inappropriate. Its hard. This means I should be looking forward to Asst. Directing Dracula, right? You would think so. Instead, I just don't know. How can I do that? Especially without stepping on the director's toes ... and why the hell would professionals listen to me? Can you imagine someone like Joseph Papke listening to me about the need to change how he delivers a line? Ridiculous, isn't it? I've got to buck up before then, or I will be as useful to them as a fly on the wall.
Random things:
* Apparently, there is going to be a night, according to Adam, that everyone as a group will decide that it is okay for me to let loose and really not worry about being responsible. And I must say, the idea intrigues me. I have not been irresponsible often in my life, and I do have this incredible desire to throw caution to the wind and have a "good time" That being said, I am also very anxious about this night because I don't trust myself.
* Have you ever watched 2 actors, who are still on book, work on a scene where they are dancing? Its hilarious! They're holding on to each other with one hand while the other is occupied with an open script, and as they sway to the "music" they talk to their scripts. Its a picture you have to see. Two actors rehearsing a love scene not looking at each other.
* I need to find a kareoke song. I need to find my kareoke courage. Every Thursday there will be kareoke at the Legion, and I can;t just sit there all summer. I love singing, but I've just about convinced myself that I am not good at it. Especially next to these pros. However, I am determined, and I will sing at least once this summer.
I should get to sleep. I should get up & walk tomorrow, but that would mean I have about 3 and 1/2 hours of sleep :S Serves me right.
Hopefully soon, I will be able to watch and post on 'Pulp Fiction' so watch for it.